Ever since man has discovered the art of writing, he hasn’t stopped.  Ok, the first writings may have been scribbles describing how Ugg the Mighty raped and pillaged his way through downtown Essex, but they did become more creative.

The Sumerians were the first creative lot, with their pictograms and let me tell you, they didn’t mess around.  The pictograms literally meant what was displayed, and they didn’t pull any punches either.  Look up their pictogram for a woman and you’ll see what I mean!  Anyway, the Egyptians then took part with their hieroglyphs, which were a lot more colourful and way prettier than anything else around at the time.

Well, I don’t want to go on about the history of writing as we could be here all day and, I’m not an expert so I’d probably make a mistake and then be blasted with emails for those scholarly types telling me that I have the IQ of a dead newt (and I’d wonder how on earth did they know me so well?)!

Then came books!

Now we all know the bible was the best selling book when they all kicked off, but the Catholic Church got over-zealous and banned scientific study and all written research.  However, instead of destroying the books (even they weren’t that stupid), they whitewashed over the written material and wrote more bibles (rumour has it that if the leaders Catholic Church weren’t complete morons, we could be around 500 years more advanced in our technology!)

One of the main drawbacks with early books was that they were only for the privileged.  They were pretty expensive as they each had to be hand written, line-by-line and book-by-book because the inventor of the printing press was taking his own sweet time in being born and then inventing it.  But, eventually, when he got around to it, the book boom began.  Once literacy started taking hold, there was no turning back and people began to read, which is quite good otherwise I’d be writing this for nothing and you would be wondering what all these funny symbols were!

Joking aside, books became a means to record history, daily occurrences, fiction, biographies, anything that could be written down, was, and given in great detail.  People began to thirst for information, scholars would write papers (mainly to try and impress their peers) so they could share their findings with the world and authors began to make stuff up.  Most people liked that bit the best.

The book has been around for centuries.  I was an avid reader and my collection of fiction is fairly extensive as I have never thrown a book away.  That has lead to a small problem of where to keep them all; the solution being airtight containers in the spare room.  I have five of them and they are full of books.  The downside to this is that I don’t have easy access to them and, at the end of the day, I don’t bother looking in them anymore as it is too much trouble to pull a container out, open it and look for a specific book.

That doesn’t stop me buying new ones though.  And to make matters worth, my wife can read too, so she buys her books, just to add to the numbers.  We have mountains of books hiding around the house, lurking in wardrobes or drawers and sometimes even accosting the dog, much to his surprise!

Time passes and things change.  The time usually, but nothing stops progression, apart from a good dose of suppression, but I digress.  A new craze has taken hold of people and more are in a frenzy to try this new technology.  The iPad has emerged, sweeping all before it away under its brash Applenessness.  The Apple brand name is now more popular than ever as a result of their various i-devices, but the iPad has created a hell of a stir!

Apple appears to be a rising star as their fortunes turn upward yet again.  With the iPod, iPhone, iMac and now the iPad, Apple is on the lips of everyone.  Also on their lips is what is it with that tiny ‘i’ in front of everything?  Does anyone else find it annoying (he asks while writing this on an iMac)?  There are several theories what the ‘i’ stands for, but yet again I digress (I blame the drugs!)

The mighty (well, not quite so mighty) iPad may change the way we read forever more.  It will happen slowly, but the demise of the aged book is drawing closer and as I grasp for more metaphors, the electronic book will slowly replace it.  Or will it?

The iPad isn’t unique in this market.  There are numerous other eBook readers (as they are called) such as Kindle, BeBook and Bookeen to name a few, and big companies such as Sony have their finger in the pie too.  The weird thing is, many of these eBook readers are better at being good readers than the iPad is, but that’s another story….

But can the eBook reader really replace the book?  We have had computers and printers in our office environments for years, the catchword was ‘a paperless office’, saving the trees, the world and Private Ryan.  But it has never worked.  People are always printing reports out because once its on paper, it’s real.  For some obscure reason, writing on a computer screen is ethereal; you can’t grasp it and feel it.  So the same applies with books.  We like to hold a book and read it’s dog-eared pages.  There is nothing like buying a new book and opening it for the first time.

I am obviously talking about my generation.  Although I have said that the paperless office is a fallacy, in fact a lot of files have been transferred to the electronic medium and replaced a lot of paper.  This makes keeping track of things a lot easier than wading through a sea of files and reports.  But, they don’t really count, do they.  A book is something different and I cannot see anyone from my generation preferring an e-reader to a good chunk of paper in our hands.

Time passes and people change.  There is the likelihood that in the future books will be consigned to the historic graveyard where Betamax and VHS reside.  I may not be around to see that, but one thing is for sure, books will never have a system error, crash or run out of power!




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